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Expand chart
Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report was one of the best jobs growth numbers in history, but taken in context the expected number was abysmal.

  • The U.S. added 661,000 jobs for the month, less than half of the 1.4 million added in August, and a bit more than a third of the 1.7 million added in July.

By the numbers: The U.S. lost around 22 million jobs in March and April and since May has gained back around 11 million.

  • At a pace of 650,000 jobs a month, it would take just under a year and a half for the U.S. to regain the jobs still not replaced.
  • However, data show the pace of jobs growth slowing.
  • And around 100,000 jobs need to be added each month simply to keep up with population growth.

Driving the news: The announcement of potentially hundreds of thousands of layoffs by airlines, insurance and oil giants, fashion companies, and The Happiest Place on Earth this week made headlines, but the number of job losses is on pace with almost every other week over the past five months.

Watch this space: The coronavirus pandemic remains the leading reason for layoffs, but an increasing number of companies are citing other traditional recessionary dynamics as the reason to fire workers.

  • "In September, market conditions caused 45,213 of the announced cuts, followed by 33,713 job cuts due to demand downturn, and 11,562 cuts due to restructuring," Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported last month.

Between the lines: Many of those adding to the number of America's jobless are not counted as unemployed in the jobs report.

  • The biggest difference between the number of people currently collecting unemployment benefits and those on the rolls at the height of the 2007–2009 recession is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which included 11.8 million beneficiaries as of Sept. 12.
  • Most don't qualify for traditional unemployment benefits and are not counted in the monthly jobs report.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides benefits for those who have exhausted traditional unemployment, now includes 1.8 million people.

  • A similar program created during the Great Recession rose to include as many as 5.9 million Americans at its peak.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 8, 2021 - Podcasts

America’s lethargic labor market

As the pandemic strengthens, America's labor market weakens, based on the latest monthly jobs report that showed a loss of 140,000 nonfarm payrolls.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the numbers, what they really mean and where things head next with Axios business reporters Courtenay Brown and Felix Salmon.

5 hours ago - World

Defense Sec. Austin stresses U.S. commitment to Israel's security amid growing Iran tensions

Issei Kato/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived for his first visit in Jerusalem amid nuclear talks in Vienna and growing tensions between Israel and Iran.

Why it matters: Austin met his counterpart Benny Gantz and will meet later with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss Iran and regional security issues.

"I was horrified": Leaders respond to footage of Black and Latino Army officer threatened at traffic stop

An Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after he said they drew their guns and pepper-sprayed him during a traffic stop in December.

Why it matters: Footage of the incident has drawn widespread criticism from leaders and groups in the state. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is heard saying “I’m honestly afraid to get out," to which a police officer responds “Yeah, you should be," in a video from a body-worn camera.